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General CR approach, taking notes?

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General CR approach, taking notes? [#permalink]

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Hi all,
im trying to figure out whats the best way to increase my success % in CR.
im standing on 75% or so but still sometimes i have a few consecutive mistakes.

right now i am not taking any notes when attacking a question. im not sure whether or not i should do so.
lets say for example that for an assumption questions i dont really write the assumption or predict the answer. i just eliminate the out of scope answers and using the negation technique on the final two.

I have seen a few MGMAT experts that do recommend on taking notes but overall i think it will just cut more seconds out of the clock.

so my question is, how do you guys approach CR? and what about taking notes?

thanks!
Roy
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Re: General CR approach, taking notes? [#permalink]

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Sorry Roy, this is going to be a very long answer, and I'm not sure that it's going to be useful.

Here's the thing: I'm convinced that some people really need to take notes, or else their brain shuts down. My fiance is an attorney, and when she was studying for the LSAT (half of which is critical reasoning questions), she would scribble all sorts of notes all over the page. In her case, the notes are absolutely necessary: she's a kinesthetic learner, which means that her brain only functions if her hands are moving. If she doesn't take notes, she does a pretty lousy job of processing whatever she's reading. That might sound strange, but it's true for a decent percentage of the population, including plenty of GMAT students. If that's how your brain works, then note-taking is an absolutely indispensable tool for improving your verbal scores.

So at one extreme, note-taking can help engage your mind so that you can understand the text. At the other extreme, note-taking can actually make you disengage from the text. Some test-takers find it extremely unnatural to take notes, and they'll write things down only because they feel obligated; in the meantime, they're thinking too hard about what they're "supposed to write," and they lose track of the passage. Again, this doesn't apply to too many people, but I've seen a handful of students who only improved at CR (or RC) when they stopped taking notes.

So the unsatisfying answer is that everybody is different. Notes are a spectacular tool for some people, and a counterproductive tool for others. Every GMAT test-prep company recommends its own methodology for note-taking (and they have to, otherwise nobody would buy their books), but no single method is going to work for absolutely everybody.

Sorry, that was a long, philosophical, and probably useless answer.

Your performance on CR sounds like it’s pretty decent already, and it's impossible for me to guess exactly why you miss questions. I think there’s a chance that you occasionally miss questions because you misread one little word that can change the scope or magnitude of the conclusion, though.

If that’s the case, then you might try writing down the conclusion exactly as it's stated in each CR passage. (With the caveat that a small percentage of CR passages don’t have a conclusion—don’t worry about writing anything down if that’s the case.) Hopefully, the act of writing down the conclusion will help you to be 100% clear about the structure of the argument, and it will help you to catch any little modifiers that might change the scope of the conclusion.

If that doesn’t seem to help, then you might be one of those individuals who doesn’t actually benefit from note-taking. Or you can try one of the many other note-taking formats out there, to see if it helps. (Odds are good that somebody from a large test-prep company will reply to this post, recommending their specific method.) For what it’s worth, the act of taking notes—as long as you’re not taking too many notes—doesn’t necessarily eat all that much time. So if it does improve your accuracy, then it’s worth spending those extra few seconds on each passage.

I hope this helps!
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Re: General CR approach, taking notes? [#permalink]

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New post 30 Nov 2012, 11:21
GMATNinja wrote:
Sorry Roy, this is going to be a very long answer, and I'm not sure that it's going to be useful.

Here's the thing: I'm convinced that some people really need to take notes, or else their brain shuts down. My fiance is an attorney, and when she was studying for the LSAT (half of which is critical reasoning questions), she would scribble all sorts of notes all over the page. In her case, the notes are absolutely necessary: she's a kinesthetic learner, which means that her brain only functions if her hands are moving. If she doesn't take notes, she does a pretty lousy job of processing whatever she's reading. That might sound strange, but it's true for a decent percentage of the population, including plenty of GMAT students. If that's how your brain works, then note-taking is an absolutely indispensable tool for improving your verbal scores.

So at one extreme, note-taking can help engage your mind so that you can understand the text. At the other extreme, note-taking can actually make you disengage from the text. Some test-takers find it extremely unnatural to take notes, and they'll write things down only because they feel obligated; in the meantime, they're thinking too hard about what they're "supposed to write," and they lose track of the passage. Again, this doesn't apply to too many people, but I've seen a handful of students who only improved at CR (or RC) when they stopped taking notes.

So the unsatisfying answer is that everybody is different. Notes are a spectacular tool for some people, and a counterproductive tool for others. Every GMAT test-prep company recommends its own methodology for note-taking (and they have to, otherwise nobody would buy their books), but no single method is going to work for absolutely everybody.

Sorry, that was a long, philosophical, and probably useless answer.

Your performance on CR sounds like it’s pretty decent already, and it's impossible for me to guess exactly why you miss questions. I think there’s a chance that you occasionally miss questions because you misread one little word that can change the scope or magnitude of the conclusion, though.

If that’s the case, then you might try writing down the conclusion exactly as it's stated in each CR passage. (With the caveat that a small percentage of CR passages don’t have a conclusion—don’t worry about writing anything down if that’s the case.) Hopefully, the act of writing down the conclusion will help you to be 100% clear about the structure of the argument, and it will help you to catch any little modifiers that might change the scope of the conclusion.

If that doesn’t seem to help, then you might be one of those individuals who doesn’t actually benefit from note-taking. Or you can try one of the many other note-taking formats out there, to see if it helps. (Odds are good that somebody from a large test-prep company will reply to this post, recommending their specific method.) For what it’s worth, the act of taking notes—as long as you’re not taking too many notes—doesn’t necessarily eat all that much time. So if it does improve your accuracy, then it’s worth spending those extra few seconds on each passage.

I hope this helps!


Hi!
thank you for your answer.
sometimes i do miss a word or two but also i think i miss some questions due to poor time management. it seems i can solve most of the CR questions if i had 3 minutes per question, but i dont.
I guess i just have to keep practicing and work on my stamina.
I will take notes in long and wordy CR's.
thanks again!
Roy
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Re: General CR approach, taking notes? [#permalink]

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New post 02 Dec 2012, 03:05
Quote:
So at one extreme, note-taking can help engage your mind so that you can understand the text. At the other extreme, note-taking can actually make you disengage from the text. Some test-takers find it extremely unnatural to take notes, and they'll write things down only because they feel obligated; in the meantime, they're thinking too hard about what they're "supposed to write," and they lose track of the passage. Again, this doesn't apply to too many people, but I've seen a handful of students who only improved at CR (or RC) when they stopped taking notes.


EXACTLY what I think
Extremely helpful post GMATNinja
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Re: General CR approach, taking notes? [#permalink]

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New post 04 Apr 2017, 21:44
GMATNinja wrote:
Sorry Roy, this is going to be a very long answer, and I'm not sure that it's going to be useful.

Here's the thing: I'm convinced that some people really need to take notes, or else their brain shuts down. My fiance is an attorney, and when she was studying for the LSAT (half of which is critical reasoning questions), she would scribble all sorts of notes all over the page. In her case, the notes are absolutely necessary: she's a kinesthetic learner, which means that her brain only functions if her hands are moving. If she doesn't take notes, she does a pretty lousy job of processing whatever she's reading. That might sound strange, but it's true for a decent percentage of the population, including plenty of GMAT students. If that's how your brain works, then note-taking is an absolutely indispensable tool for improving your verbal scores.

So at one extreme, note-taking can help engage your mind so that you can understand the text. At the other extreme, note-taking can actually make you disengage from the text. Some test-takers find it extremely unnatural to take notes, and they'll write things down only because they feel obligated; in the meantime, they're thinking too hard about what they're "supposed to write," and they lose track of the passage. Again, this doesn't apply to too many people, but I've seen a handful of students who only improved at CR (or RC) when they stopped taking notes.

So the unsatisfying answer is that everybody is different. Notes are a spectacular tool for some people, and a counterproductive tool for others. Every GMAT test-prep company recommends its own methodology for note-taking (and they have to, otherwise nobody would buy their books), but no single method is going to work for absolutely everybody.

Sorry, that was a long, philosophical, and probably useless answer.

Your performance on CR sounds like it’s pretty decent already, and it's impossible for me to guess exactly why you miss questions. I think there’s a chance that you occasionally miss questions because you misread one little word that can change the scope or magnitude of the conclusion, though.

If that’s the case, then you might try writing down the conclusion exactly as it's stated in each CR passage. (With the caveat that a small percentage of CR passages don’t have a conclusion—don’t worry about writing anything down if that’s the case.) Hopefully, the act of writing down the conclusion will help you to be 100% clear about the structure of the argument, and it will help you to catch any little modifiers that might change the scope of the conclusion.

If that doesn’t seem to help, then you might be one of those individuals who doesn’t actually benefit from note-taking. Or you can try one of the many other note-taking formats out there, to see if it helps. (Odds are good that somebody from a large test-prep company will reply to this post, recommending their specific method.) For what it’s worth, the act of taking notes—as long as you’re not taking too many notes—doesn’t necessarily eat all that much time. So if it does improve your accuracy, then it’s worth spending those extra few seconds on each passage.

I hope this helps!

Hi GMATNinja,
Hope you're well. I'm a guy who is NOT strong memorized based-I forget most of the things (what i read) after 3 or 4 seconds. So, how can I do well in CR and RC? What strategy should I follow for this 2 types of sections?
Thank you...
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Re: General CR approach, taking notes? [#permalink]

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Well, I think that the advice about CR in my long, long rant (from 2012!) probably still very much applies to you, iMyself. If your memory is truly bad when you're reading, then I suppose you have to at least try to take notes, and see if it helps.

For CR, I think the key is to think about the logical structure of the argument. If the passage has a conclusion, start there -- write down the conclusion exactly as it's stated in the passage, and then see if you can figure out how, exactly, everything else in the passage supports that conclusion. If you're doing a "resolve the paradox/discrepancy" question, try writing down exactly what the paradox is -- again, exactly as it's stated in the passage. If you start to let the language drift away from the passage, then you risk making some pretty serious errors.

But again: everybody is different. Some people like to turn their CR into pictures and flow charts (Mike, a.k.a. GMATNinjaTwo, tends to prefer this approach when he takes the exam). Some people disengage as soon as they start taking any sort of notes. I tend to turn my CR notes into lists that look something like this:

    Conclusion: blah blah
    Why?
    - blah blah burrito blah blah
    - blah blah
    - and another thing: blah

But that's just me; I don't do well with pictures. GMATNinjaTwo does. Different strokes for different folks.

For RC, I'd make a similar case: there are some important fundamentals, but everybody is different. The simplest approach is to stop at the end of every paragraph, and ask yourself: why is this paragraph here? What is its purpose? How does it connect to the earlier paragraphs, and what is the author trying to accomplish with it? Most of our students improve once they learn to completely engage in those questions -- and most will write down no more than 8-12 words for each paragraph, just to keep themselves on track.

But again: some will be better off taking ZERO notes. Some need to keep their hand moving constantly in order to stay engaged. Both of those things are fine -- and as long as you stay focused on the big picture and avoid obsessing over little details on RC, you'll be OK. It's just a question of figuring out what type of notes work for you personally.

So the key is always to be really conscious, critical, and thoughtful about what you're doing. If you let your brain go into auto-pilot -- or worse, if you decide to blindly follow a note-taking strategy from some test-prep company -- then you'll be missing the point. The key is to figure out the type of note-taking that helps YOU engage fully in the passage, on both CR and RC. And since we're all different, your optimal note-taking strategy is going to be different from that of the guy sitting next to you at HBS. ;)

I hope this helps!
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GMAT Ninja Wednesdays LIVE on YouTube
Join us, and ask your questions in advance!

Beginners' guides to GMAT verbal
Reading Comprehension | Critical Reasoning | Sentence Correction

SC & CR Questions of the Day (QOTDs), featuring expert explanations
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Need an expert reply?
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Sentence Correction articles & resources
How to go from great (760) to incredible (780) on GMAT SC | That "-ing" Word Probably Isn't a Verb | That "-ed" Word Might Not Be a Verb, Either | No-BS Guide to GMAT Idioms | "Being" is not the enemy | WTF is "that" doing in my sentence?

Reading Comprehension, Critical Reasoning, and other articles & resources
All GMAT Ninja articles on GMAT Club | Using LSAT for GMAT CR & RC |7 reasons why your actual GMAT scores don't match your practice test scores | How to get 4 additional "fake" GMAT Prep tests for $29.99... in any section order

YouTube verbal webinars:
"Next-level" GMAT pronouns | Uses of "that" on the GMAT | Parallelism and meaning | Simplifying GMAT verb tenses | Comparisons, part I |
November webinar schedule

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Re: General CR approach, taking notes?   [#permalink] 05 Apr 2017, 09:20
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